Gardening is a hobby, unless you intend to sell what you grow. Like any hobby there is a learning curve. At the beginning many mistakes are made and the ability to stay motivated is tested. Eventually the rudimentary task are learned and more complex situations arise, testing the gardener. Hopefully the results and pleasure of the garden will keep you occupied for the rest of your life. Gardening is one of life's pleasures. I know the vast majority of potential gardeners will drop the hobby once the ability to stay motivated is exhausted. Here in the foothills that might actually happen the first night when the deer come through and destroy everything you planted. "You mean I have to build a fence to keep the deer out?" "I fenced the deer out but now there is something eating the roots". "I put gopher wire in and now something I can't see is eating my plants at night." Etc. Etc. Etc.
The great gardening wave of 2010 will pass, like all the other waves that have come through. This makes people upset that have invested so much psychic energy in the idea of the country becomming more like Britain, where gardening is a national pastime. I hope that a percentage of new people being drawn to gardening this year will stick with it. Maybe 10 or 20%, at the very most. Actually those figures are most likely too high. Once people begin to realize that they are not going to starve if they don't have a vegetable garden, the interest in vegetable gardening that we see now will lapse.
Once we get out of the notion that the country is going to be one big garden, we can focus on the smaller percentage of people who will take the time to learn the hobby of gardening. The notion that we need a national figure to promote gardening is a bit old fashioned. I think The White House vegetable garden is a great idea, if The First Lady really wanted one. If she really wanted to garden then we should let her, and quit trying to interject all of our ideas about vegetable gardening into her garden. She should not have to garden by exit polls.
Just because the intense intrest in gardening will lapse, doesn't mean we are not still embarking upon a new era in gardening. In our garden businesses we are facing the unknown. No one knows what is comming. All boats are not rising in this new gardening world. My friends in the wholesale ornamental businesses are suffering. Not enough new construction of homes to keep the stock moving. Now they are forced to try to find enough retail outlets to sell stock to. The avilabilty list the sales people carry with them are huge. Page after page of plants, they cannot sell.
I have always felt that "small is cool" when it comes to business. Now we can see why it's so cool. No longer envious of large concerns with lot's of employees, the small garden center can keep the overhead low. No longer impressed with the big clients, who now are downsizing and can't afford to buy plants.. The smaller customer with her tomato, bag of starter food, and enthusiasm is more dependable than the big accounts. I like the idea that my customers are using the internet to learn about gardening from a local garden blogger or local celebrity, rather than some "national figure" on HGTV.
I am excited about the future, even though we have no idea what's in store. I do know that I would not want to be anywhere else but working at my small garden center with customers that really want to learn about gardening. It's a honest (long) day of work, where we help people improve their environment, and make the world a more beautiful place. We need more businesses like this.